A few quadrants-worth of pointe shoes displayed at The Shoe Room, the boutique outfitting store for Canada’s National Ballet School. I wasn’t sure at first how to approach this shot. I tried taking an oblique angle, hoping to show a dramatic close-to-far vista of shoes – but that didn’t work well when I tried it (I think the wooden cubbies interfered with the purity of the effect). Then I stepped back and took a carefully symmetrical view of the majority of the display, thinking that the volume of shoes should be conveyed – but that didn’t work well either, because it seemed it would be impossible for viewers to figure out that the myriad objects in the cubbies were actually pointe shoes. So I ended up cropping in much more tightly to make clear the identity of the items, while still hinting at how many shoes there must be by composing a “borderless” image. I think the window light streams in more dramatically, too.


I took a morning stroll through London last month to visit my editor at The Spectator, but upon reaching The Mall was greeted by the sight of numerous heavily-armed police cordoning off the area. Winding my way along the sole approved path to St. James’s Park, I asked an officer what was going on. “State opening of Parliament”, he shrugged, a little wearily. It took me just as long to exit Westminster after my meeting. Asking another officer how to get through a crowd and cordon to a particular Tube station, she shook her head. “You can’t get there from here.”

John Rawlings

This gorgeous photo is by Condé Nast photographer the late John Rawlings (model: Suzy Parker). Published in 1953, it’s a powerful reminder to me that fashion photography is not subject to laws of “progress” or historical development – apart from the dress and hairstyle depicted, this image could have been made in the 21st century by Paolo Roversi or Javier Vallhonrat. Rather, I suspect that photographers explore their own stylistic regions in a space defined as the set of all possible photographs – a space that neither expands nor contracts, and is always with us from generation to generation.

Using Format